Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cyberbullying Skypes and Video Exchange with Nicaragua

Our global classroom has once again connected with another great partner school.  For our most recent project, Integrated Technology students collaborated with students from the American Nicaraguan School in Managua, Nicaragua, to discuss what they have been learning about cyberbullying.  Our collaboration began in February by meeting via Mystery Skype.  After guessing one another's respective locations, students had the chance to ask a few questions and get to know one another.

Then, students worked in small groups at both schools to create anti-cyberbullying public service announcements.  Using the app Touchcast, students created interactive videos that allowed for the inclusion of external weblinks, polls, and additional images.  Once completed, the videos were uploaded to the Touchcast website and shared with our partner school.  We have to admit that we were a little jealous of the beautiful weather that we observed in the Nicaragua students' videos!  Check out some of our completed Touchcast videos below.

Finally, we met once again via small group Skypes.  Integrated Technology students worked in groups of two or three to talk with one student from Nicaragua using the Skype app on the iPads.  Students carried on conversations about what they learned about cyberbullying and shared their personal experiences.  The students in Nicaragua also gave New London students helpful tips about using Touchcast. 

We learned that cyberbullying is a concern all over the world, not just in the United States.  We loved our chance to collaborate with this great group of students from Nicaragua!  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A World Read Aloud Day full of Connected Literacy

World Read Aloud Day has now become one of my favorite annual celebrations.  Celebrated on the first Wednesday of March, World Read Aloud Day brings awareness to the importance of global literacy.  It is also a day when worldwide classrooms work to connect globally with other reading partners and authors who dedicate their time to promoting this cause.  At NLMSIS, World Read Aloud Day was a huge celebration with almost back-to-back Skype sessions scheduled throughout the day for all students. 

Our World Read Aloud Day celebration actually began earlier in the week when we invited authors Dee Garretson, author of Wildfire Run and Wolf Storm, and Chris Tozier, author of the Olivia Brophie series, to Skype with us.  Each began by telling our 5th and 6th grade students a little about themselves and then answering student questions.  Students loved learning more about the writing process, adventure fiction, and in Chris's case, more about bugs, one of his interests!  These Skype sessions were a great kick off to our week.

Our official World Read Aloud Day festivities kicked off on March 4 with a very exciting Skype call with Lynda Mullaly Hunt, author of One for the Murphys and the newly released Fish in a Tree.  This was an extra special visit due to the fact that in the fall all of our 6th graders heard One for the Murphys read aloud in their Language Arts classes as part of the Global Read Aloud project.  They were so excited to ask Lynda their remaining burning questions.  We made use of Skype's group calling feature so that our six classrooms of students could remain with their teachers and still participate at the same time.

Our next Skype call was with Newbery Honor author Margi Preus.  Two classrooms of 5th graders learned more about her Heart of a Samarai and West of the Moon.  They were especially intrigued to learn more about her upcoming book Enchantment Lake, a mystery set in the northwoods, an area in which most of our students are very familiar.

Skype number three began shortly after when we met Laura Marx Fitzgerald, author of Under the Egg.  She began by reading aloud the first chapter of her book, igniting our students' curiosity about this art mystery.  Many of Mrs. Pritchard's students were armed with questions about the book itself since that is currently her classroom read aloud.

Our fourth and fifth Skypes were with one generous author who volunteered to Skype twice with us to accommodate two different classes.  Sarah Aronson began her session by reading aloud from Beyond Lucky.  She did not, though, begin reading at chapter one.  Her read aloud started at chapter two, the first part of the book that she actually wrote.  Students then had many, many questions for her about soccer, writing, her inspirations, and what she likes to do in her spare time.

Skype number six mixed our day up a bit with a read aloud from Mrs. Ornburn's class in Rhode Island.  Her students began by reading aloud McElligot's Pool by Dr. Seuss.  Then, the 7th hour Integrated Technology students prepared a class reading of Jarett Krosoczka's Punk Farm.  Afterwards, we each had time to talk about our respective cities and schools and ask one another some questions.  After hearing about their weather forecast, we felt very lucky not to live on the East Coast!

Our day concluded with a Skype call from author Danette Vigilante, writer of The Trouble With Half a Moon.  She read aloud an excerpt from her book and then opened it up to our 8th graders' questions.  She was even gracious enough to show us the view from her hotel room.  We so appreciated her taking a break from her sunny Orlando, Florida vacation to celebrate with us!

Overall, it was an amazing day.  We are so grateful for the opportunities that these authors provided and to Lit World and Skype in the Classroom for helping to organize such wonderful connections.  We look forward to two more upcoming author Skypes taking place tomorrow and next week from Django Wexler and Lee Edward Fodi.

Battle of the Books 2015

Last week, four very smart 5th graders represented our school in WEMTA's statewide Battle of the Books competition.  NLMSIS's team competed against many other teams from across the state in a friendly online competition that asked various questions about 20 required books.  Our school's team read hungrily over parts of the fall and winter to learn as much as they could about each of the books listed before the big competition day.  Congratulations to our school's representatives and to all of the students who participated in the program this year.  They are already looking forward to next year!